Students at Waltham Forest College are being taught how to protect their friends from vulnerability and how to stay away from gangs and violence.

Waltham Forest College has dedicated a themed teaching week to raising awareness of topics that affect young people linked to youth violence. Some timetabled lessons have been replaced with workshops about managing conflict, joint enterprise, online safety, healthy relationships and consent.

The College collaborated with a range of organisations to deliver themed seminars focusing on topics that matter to young people and vulnerable adults. Seminars included ways to defuse confrontation, self-defence, basic first-aid and other awareness-raising workshops that equip learners with the skills and knowledge on how to avoid being drawn into susceptible situations.

One of the sessions was delivered by researchers from the University of Cambridge and University of Kent that commissioned a body map exhibition, produced by convicted inmates, of joint enterprise. Prisoners revealed the harsh reality of joint enterprise through artwork, describing their experience through written testimonials.

Public Services student, who attended the exhibition said: “This is a real eye-opener as we started questioning how one person can be convicted of an offence committed by another person. This just highlighted the importance of how we choose our friends and not being caught up in vulnerable situations”.

The week of activities forms part of the overall awareness campaigns embedded into the College calendar to tackle topics on youth crime.

Shiguftah Gulzar, Welfare and Wellbeing Manager, said: "The workshops and exhibitions we have chosen to deliver allowed our students to critically discuss the impact on their immediate vulnerability. The exhibition was popular, and many students shared their thoughts and left heartfelt messages of encouragement, gratitude and resilience on handwritten postcards, which the researchers will post out to the prisoners”.

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